May 21, 2009
Iron and Wine
Around the Well
2009 | Sub Pop
So, the thing is this: Around the Well is a collection of Iron and Wine rarities. And a lot of people are going to be pretty excited about that and, in many ways, I don’t really blame them. I’ll admit outright that The Creek Drank the Cradle is one of my touchstone albums, one of those monumental albums that people like me, like us, anchor the fabric of our lives and memories around. And I’ll also say that nothing Sam Beam has done since has felt, to me, even remotely as inspired or effortlessly executed. Further, I’ll outright state that I thought The Shepherd’s Dog was a pretty abysmal effort in any regard, especially for somebody who had so consistently – even throughout some inconsistent albums – shown the colors of his brilliance.
The basic problem with Around the Well, in my mind anyway, is that Beam’s back-canon is so decidedly unlike that of most singer-songwriters. The Creek Drank the Cradle was infamously delivered to Sub Pop in a form significantly greater than that in which it was released: as “two full-length albums” (or at least enough songs to comprise two full albums), that were eventually pared down into what we would come to know as Iron and Wine’s debut. Beam effectively delivered a mythology that mirrored those of the old-world blues and folk musicians (Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, etc.), but with his music so giftedly updated. He seemed somebody who played and wrote with the singular intention of playing and writing, somebody who happened to have been “discovered” and thrown into the light against his own intentions.
More on Iron and Wine | Around the Well